Fans delight as soccer star pays visit to his old school

Ikechi Anya, left, meets three generations of Watford fans – Terry Pickin with daughter, Mandy Groves and grandchildren, front from left, twins James and Lisa Groves, 14, and Charlie Groves, 17 Picture: OX63658 Damian Halliwell

Ikechi Anya, left, meets three generations of Watford fans – Terry Pickin with daughter, Mandy Groves and grandchildren, front from left, twins James and Lisa Groves, 14, and Charlie Groves, 17 Picture: OX63658 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

THREE generations of a family were thrilled when they got the chance to meet footballing star Ikechi Anya.

The Watford winger returned to his former school Gosford Hill School to present awards to high achievers at the Kidlington secondary school.

The awards were based on one of the school’s core aspirations called Fostering Ambition and Inspiring Success.

Prize winner Charlie Groves, 17, was presented with an award for success at the ceremony.

Her mum Mandy Groves said the family, from Wendlebury, was very excited to see and meet Mr Anya.

Charlie’s dad, Terry Pickin, 78, has been a fan of the team for 70 years.

Mrs Groves, who turns 48 today, said: “My dad’s first memory of watching Watford was in the 1950s when they were playing against Manchester United in a cup game.

“When me and my sister were young the only chance we had to see a football match was if it was a Watford game, so we grew up as supporters too.

“And then, when I had my four children, they didn’t really have a choice about who they supported either. It was absolutely lovely for us to get the chance to meet Ikechi.

“We are fans anyway but we follow him closely because of his Kidlington connection.

“It was a lovely evening. I am very proud of Charlie. I’m such a proud mum. She has done very well.

“And getting to meet Ikechi made it just that little bit more special for all of us.”

Assistant headteacher Chris Hall said: “The keynote address was given by returning ex-student Ikechi Anya who plays football for Watford and Scotland.

“He spoke eloquently about how he had achieved success through hard work and determination.

“Our thanks and congratulations go to all the students and families who made this such a special evening.”

Mr Anya presented the certificates, and book tokens to encourage reading.

The headteacher’s awards went to Natasha Owen and Dom James.

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